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Green mayor gives State of City

1/30/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

GREEN — City of Green Mayor Dick Norton delivered his annual State of the City address Jan. 29 before a full house of city residents and employees and governmental and business partners at Raintree Country Club.

Norton’s address recapped the city’s 2013 finances and accomplishments and gave a preview of projects planned for 2014.

Norton said he was pleased to report the city is thriving. “Currently, Green is in what I like to refer to as a thoughtful, deliberate growth phase,” he said. “Green is growing, Green is expanding, and Green is moving forward.”

Continuing to attract a variety of businesses while avoiding concentration in any one business segment will assure a diverse revenue stream and allow the city to have an “ever increasing and predictable” source of revenue, Norton said.

Norton characterized the city’s revenue as “moving in the right direction,” increasing to support infrastructure growth and the need for expanded city services. He said he expected 2014 revenue to mirror 2013’s $28.5 million and to carry on with the city’s history of spending less than budgeted. The city also will continue to pursue a AAA bond rating, Norton said.

The city, in 2013, invested $17 million in its infrastructure, its largest one-year capital expenditure, Norton said. This included improvements to state Route 619, resurfacing the final stretch of South Arlington Road, reconstruction of Arlington Ridge East, reconstruction of Arlington Road beneath Interstate 77, widening a portion of Steese Road and construction of Global Gateway, opening 140 acres for development, he said.

Other capital improvements were construction of the Growing Green Educational Wetland, which combined stormwater management with an educational component, and the additions of ball fields to East Liberty Park and new restrooms at Boettler Park.

Norton placed special emphasis on the continued planning and anticipated construction of Central Park, which will be situated in Town Center adjacent to the Central Administration Building. Although Green has created an attractive environment to raise a family, build a business and relax, its “newness” has left it without the historic downtown gathering place of many area towns, he said.

Green, with the development of Central Park, will develop a sense of place for the community, he said.

“If you think of your own family, your home isn’t necessarily the structure so much as the memories of the times you have with the ones you love,” he said. “A Central Park, just one element in a vision for building a town center, would achieve this by providing a social hub, a community gathering place, a park with something for everyone.”

Plans for the park include a walking path, water features, traditional playground, raised sensory garden, splash pad wet play area, amphitheater and shaded seating. The plan also includes a pavilion plaza with concession stand, restrooms and space for a farmers’ market. In winter, the plaza could be flooded for ice skating, he said. Norton called on city residents to review the plan and give feedback to the city administration.

Norton said 2013 could be characterized as the year of the grocery store, with Buehler’s opening its first Summit County store in the former Portage Lakes IGA location, the conversion of a Giant Eagle to one of the company’s new Market District concept stores and the commitment by Acme to build in the community. The Acme store is expected to open sometime in summer, he added.

Other expanding business segments include health care, with construction of a new medical office building at state Route 619 and Massillon Road, the anticipated opening of Green Village Nursing Home and new medical offices established by Summa Health System and Akron General Health System. Norton also noted CVS Pharmacy and its MinuteClinic and Infinity of Akron located in the city in 2013, while Hampton Inn and General RV expanded their businesses in the community.

Norton also made note of the proposed Brier Creek Development, which will offer a mix of cluster homes, senior apartments, independent and assisted living, a memory care center and office buildings targeting residents age 55 and older. Norton said the development will fill a gap in the city’s housing supply. Currently, there are few options for older residents who want to sell their single-family homes but continue to live in the community, he added.

Green City Council will meet in regular session Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Central Administration Building, located at 1755 Town Park Boulevard.

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